Kazakhstan 2015 | TELECOMS & IT | FOCUS: SMART CITY

Without the burden of obsolete infrastructure to replace, the smart city comprehensively manages the delivery of key utilities, while fostering resident safety and comfort.

The implementation of the Smart Astana project was initiated at the end of 2013 in order to prepare the city for EXPO 2017. The main purpose of the project is to improve the living standards and welfare of residents and to modernize Astana's infrastructure and improve public safety. The project aims to accomplish all this by integrating innovative technologies into the city's infrastructure. The city Akimat (local government) will have its hands full putting together the separate control mechanisms of the municipal services. The scope of this task necessitated the creation of Astana Innovations, an organization to oversee all activities related to the modernization of the capital.

As a relatively new city, Astana has a competitive advantage when introducing modern technologies, as it does not have to face the “legacy systems,” or outdated infrastructure systems that confound modernizers in many European cities where plumbing and electrical systems are often decades, if not centuries old. In Astana, much of the city's infrastructure is brand new.

The first phases of Smart Astana are already underway. According to Astana Innovations, e-Ambulance service, and Open Wi-Fi are already in effect, and producing positive results. E-Ambulance, for example, saw the introduction of tablet computers and video conferencing for the city's ambulance service, reducing diagnostic disparities between ambulances and hospitals. Another facet of the project is 'safety bus.' Public transport will be provided with video surveillance inside buses and the driver's cab, as well as smoke and fire detectors, emergency call buttons, and dashboards.

The project also involves the system of resource provision, from which the city command center will collect information on the state of heat, water and electricity, and on the main infrastructure of the city. This center facilitates urban municipal management, and reduces the time it takes first responders to deal with emergencies.

The “Intelligent Transportation System” (ITS) is particularly relevant for Astana, which suffers from congestion (400,000 vehicles daily). Intensive traffic, combined with the lack of parking spaces will become a serious problem for the capital. Therefore, the main objective of the project is an adaptive traffic management system that will promote public transportation over private, enhance road safety, reduce harmful emissions, increase traffic flow, and at the same time, eliminate traffic jams.

The project will be implemented in several stages through 2017. The first phase involves installation of operation detection systems, automated light control, video surveillance, management, and visualization of the processes of informing drivers.

The traffic control center will monitor traffic flows, traffic lights and automated means of traffic control, as well as the operation of passenger transport, operational cooperation with government agencies and emergency services, and will formulate useful statistical data. The next two pilot projects are in the areas of street lighting and water management. Under Smart LED, existing streetlights will be replaced with LED lamps, resulting in power savings of up to 25%. Meanwhile, the water management project will increase the efficiency of Astana's water distribution system, and cut losses from 21% to 8%. These will be followed by the launch of the Intelligent Transport and Secure City projects.

Schneider Electric plays an active role in the development of the new smart city. Representatives told TBY that, “creating a city of this scale from scratch is a dream, so someone needs to make it happen, and we help in five different areas. On the electricity grid each user is actively linked to the grid, with the potential of electrical devices maximized. Elsewhere, water is more effectively delivered. Transport mobility involves controlling the modes of transportation to foster a balanced range of vehicle use. Regarding buildings, especially large ones like office and residential facilities of high energy consumption, safety and comfort are jointly pursued. Finally, the security of property and IT infrastructure are closely monitored."

As far as security is concerned, around 30,000 more video surveillance cameras will be installed on the streets of Astana on the eve of Expo 2017, where the aim is a reduction in offenses of 15-25%, acceleration of the traffic flow during peak hours by more than 25%, and a reduction of accidents by 25%. Following its successful introduction in Astana, the 'smart city project' might be replicated in other fast-growing Kazakhstani cities, such as Almaty and Shymkent.